China hosts African leaders as foreign aid criticism intensifies

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Xi, addressing leaders at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, said the new $60 billion will include $15 billion of aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, a credit line of $20 billion, a $10 billion special fund for China-Africa development, and a $5 billion special fund for imports from Africa.

"Established 18 years ago, FOCAC has led worldwide cooperation with Africa and has become a significant marker of South-South cooperation", said Li Dan, director of Africa Studies Center of China Foreign Affairs University.

"For three years, cooperation between China and Africa has deepened and political mutual trust promoted", said Li Dan.

Mr. Xi said 50 China-Africa security assistance programmes will be launched under the flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

President Mnangagwa and his wife were seen off at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Retired General Dr Constantino Chiwenga, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Harare Metropolitan Province Minister of State Miriam Chikukwa, government ministers, senior government officials and service chiefs among others.

Chinese and African leaders will have close interchanges, create stronger strategic guidance for cooperation as well as add new substance to the community considering new circumstances, which will also contribute to the building of a community with shared future for mankind.

Over the past 18 years, achievements have been made in political, economic and people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa.

China has established 54 Confucius Institutes and 27 Confucius classrooms in 41 African countries.

He pointed out that energy, transport, telecommunications and tapping cross-border water resources would be on China's radar in the next phase of Africa's infrastructural forays.

In July 2001, a FOCAC ministerial consultation meeting was held in Lusaka, capital of Zambia, at which the Procedures for Follow-up Mechanisms of FOCAC were deliberated and adopted.

It will speed up the industrialization and modernization of the continent, and push China-Africa cooperation to a higher level, said the Chinese diplomat.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is of the view that as China expands its grip of the continent, more local partnerships need to be encouraged between Chinese and African entrepreneurs.

China has denied it is engaged in debt trap diplomacy and Chinese state media have argued that concerns raised in Western media and by politicians are nothing but sour grapes.

China has been Africa's top trading partner for nine consecutive years.

"As it is, nearly all African countries have loans or grants from China, so it would make economic sense to repay in yuan", said MEFMI spokesperson Gladys Siwela-Jadagu. "What we value is the sharing of development experience and the support we can offer to Africa's national rejuvenation and prosperity", Xi said.

A China- Africa environmental cooperation centre will be set up where research on environmental issues will be conducted. Deeply indebted Pakistan is also reportedly reconsidering some projects in the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that is a key link in the BRI.

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